Presenteeism on the Rise

Presenteeism on the Rise

I was interested to read this week that ‘presenteeism’ is on the rise. Presenteeism is the act of attending work whilst sick.
A survey was recently conducted by Canada Life Group Insurance. Of the 1000 employees surveyed a staggering 93% said they had come into work whilst ill.
It has been suggested for some time that presenteeism would increase as a result of the economic downturn and that workers are becoming increasingly likely to attend work whilst ill for reasons such as the threat of redundancy (in a redundancy process the number of days taken off ill by an employee will often be one of the scoring criteria utilised to determine the lowest scoring employee – who will then be made redundant). Interestingly – this was not proved by the survey – of those polled only 13% said they had attended work ill on the basis the sick day could be taken into account in a redundancy process.
Some of the more interesting results of the survey are detailed below:
76% of people attended work whilst ill as they didn’t think their illness was serious enough to warrant a day off;
31% blamed a heavy work load as the reason for their presenteeism;
20% blamed their presenteeism on the financial implications of being off sick;
19% attended work whilst ill due to pressure from their work colleagues;
80% of those surveyed would not take time off for a stress-related illness (which appears in direct contrast to an unrelated survey which has shown a huge increase in the number of days off sick for stress-related illnesses);
33% of staff still attend work with the flu (the survey didn’t clarify if this included men suffering from ‘man flu’);
and
26% had used holiday allowance whilst off sick to avoid having to take a ‘sick day’.
I am not surprised by these results personally. The economic climate and the fact that employers are now expecting more from their staff are bound to have an effect on presenteeism. At the same time the rise in presenteeism is slightly alarming as employees that are genuinely unwell should not be discouraged from taking time off but sadly this is a sign of the times.
If you believe you are unfairly being pressured to attend work whilst unwell (whether that is by your employer or your colleagues) then you please feel free to give me a call to discuss.
Author: Jen Fagin

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